What is the house edge in roulette and why is it important?
Did you hear about the casino that failed miserably to make any money? Of course not. It doesn’t exist. Every casino must make a profit to survive, and there’s only one place that cash will come from: you and me.
Just how much money the casino makes is called the house edge. Although that sounds a little unfair, the house edge is so small that you will hardly notice the odds are stacked against you, whether you are playing table games like roulette or slots.
You might even agree it’s a small price worth paying for your entertainment. Plus, you always have the chance to win big on any single gaming session.
The house edge varies with every game, with roulette house edge coming in at around 2.7%, meaning that, on average, you will only lose $2.70 for every $100 that you wager.
Roulette house edge explained
The European roulette house edge comes from there being 36 numbers plus the green zero segment on the roulette table. That makes 37 segments, and while you can bet on any of the 37, you will only win at odds of 35 to 1, rather than 36 to 1. It gives you 2.7% less profitability.
American roulette house edge is even worse for the player since there is a second green segment, containing the double zero, meaning you get 35 to 1 rather than 37 to 1.
The bad news continues on other popular roulette bets. For example, when you bet on red or black, or odd or even numbers, you are not getting a 50/50 shot because of the green zero.
In reality, you have an 18 in 37 chance of winning (in the European roulette version), not an 18 in 36 chance.
Does roulette house edge mean you can’t win?
Theoretically, if you played roulette continuously, you would lose because of the roulette house edge. Grim-faced mathematicians will tell you the presence of the green zero segment means you can’t make a profit, no matter what roulette strategy you employ.
However, in reality, we don’t play roulette continuously, even if we wish we could. We play for a session – an hour here, an hour there. In these short time frames, you may well lose, but because roulette results are random, you might also win.
Tell someone who bet $10 on number 24 and watched with delight as it came in, giving him a $350 profit. He leaves the game soon after with a healthy balance. That’s the lure of roulette: even though the odds are stacked against us, lady luck can still be on our side.
Is Roulette house edge such a big deal?
For the casino, it is. It puts on so many roulette games around the clock that it will make the profit the roulette house edge is designed to bring in.
But for the average punter, it’s no big deal. In the scheme of things, we play at the casino for the entertainment and the chance to win. We accept the house always wins in the long run, but that we have the opportunity to swim against the tide in the short run.
Think about it logically for one moment. The mathematicians would have us believe that the house edge implies that for every 111 spins, there would be 54 reds, 54 blacks, and three zeros. But that simply won’t happen. There could be a freak run of 111 reds in a row. Hard to believe, but every new spin has the same chance of a red coming up!
Try roulette for yourself
It’s a good idea to take the roulette house edge at face value. You don’t want it clouding your judgment, which could affect how you bet at the tables.
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